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Plant of the Day - Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Elmwood'

The flat topped, rounded form of 'Elmwood' with its gold foliage fits well into landscapes. Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Elmwood’, sometimes seen as ‘Elmwood Gold’, makes a lovely rounded but somewhat flat-topped ball of gold in the garden.  The sprays of gold foliage are quite attractive all year through and the uniform shape of the plant makes it easy to put in a landscape.  We have found our plant to be quite burn resistant in full sun and have not had any errant growth.  Shaded portions of the plant such as interior branches will be green.  If reversions or long shoots appear, they should be pruned immediately.  Ultimate size is difficult to tell at this point but I would think it will slowly grow to about 6’-8’ in a decade, probably ultimately becoming wider than tall.

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Brilliant sprays of golden foliage make this a stunner.

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Plant of the Day - Taxodium distichum 'Peve Minaret'

The JCRA's 'Peve Minaret' is now about 20' tall. Our native baldcypress, Taxodium distichum, is one of our favorite plants here at the JC Raulston Arboretum but with our limited acreage there is a limit to the number of selections we can grow.  We were therefore extremely excited to hear about a dwarf selection from Piet Vergelt Nursery in the Netherlands back in the early 2000's.  We acquired a 10 inch tall plant of our own in 2002 and planted it the following fall near the path to our visitor center on a well-drained slope.  Despite baldcypress' natural affinity for damp spots, our plant has flourished and is now about 20 feet tall.  Obviously it has not read any of the descriptions that still say it only grows to 6 feet tall in 10 years.  At any rate, it is certainly much smaller than the species with a delightfully distinct texture and habit.  The feathery, mint-green branchlets are held on somewhat upright branches in dense tufts.  In fall these branchlets turn brilliant orange-russet and eventually drop revealing the densely branched form of this selection.  It can be grown in dry soils once established but prefers rich, moist spots and can even be grown in a container in water that just covers the pot.

Our plant 2 years after planting in 2005.

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Fall color on this deciduous conifer can be spectacular.

The foliage is tufted mostly towards the ends of the branches.

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Pic of the Day - Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Schirrmann's Nordlicht'

Dwarf habit and great color on 'Schirrmann's Nordlicht' This little Metaseqouia or dawn redwood selection was found as a witch's broom mutation on a branch of 'White Spot' in Germany.  It makes a small, upright conifer but we haven't grown it long enough to estimate the size (one source says 2.5' in 10 years, ours is already that big after 2 years in the ground).  Creamy variegation pops in the landscape and ours has tolerated full sun quite well.  We imagine it will thrive in damp soils like most Metasequoia but ours has been vigorous even in a fairly dry spot.  Dawn redwood is a deciduous conifer so it turns beautiful russet in the fall before it drops its needles.  It is also sold as 'North Light' in the US.

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Pic of the Day - Pinus taeda NCSU dwarf group

This particular specimen from in front of our Lath House is especially nice. Loblolly pines, Pinus taeda, are the most widespread pine in central NC and throughout much of the southeastern US.  They give the piedmont a distinctive look and feel where the tall, straight trunks and deep green foliage dominate many of the natural areas.  In 1964, Forestry researchers from NC State University collected seed from a witch's broom in Virginia.  Cuttings from these seedlings were planted around the JC Raulston Arboretum.  They make lovely small trees over time as John Grimshaw in his exceptional book New Trees: Recent Introductions to Cultivation writes:

By far the most interesting and horticulturally useful versions of P. taeda are the dwarf trees growing at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Dwarf is a misleading word as it suggests a low bushy plant; these are slow-growing short trees with dense rounded heads – pygmy might be a better term.

They have been distributed under several names, 'J.C. Raulston', 'Dixie', 'Nana', and 'Cochran' to name a few but the precise parent of these named selections has not been tracked and some of the named forms are known to have been propagated from multiple trees.  Since the trees are not clonal, it is more fitting to give them a group designation hence the name NCSU dwarf group as first suggested by John Grimshaw.  Seedlings from these trees tend to produce about 20% dwarf progeny which can be separated out in less than 6 months from germination.  Grow them in full sun and relatively well-drained soil.  Established plants are quite drought tolerant.  Mature plants are difficult to graft but not impossible.

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A grove of the dwarf loblolly pines at the JC Raulston Arboretum. - photo Nancy Doubrava